Archives for: December 2014

End of the Year

As we bid farewell to 2014 and tell it not to let the door hit it in the ass, I’ll post some year-end summaries, polls and articles for your reading pleasure. 2014 was a year with a lot of dumbassery — missing airliners, Obama’s foreign policy, zero tolerance idiocy, Obama’s economic policy, runaway Ebola nurses, Obama’s budget policy, etc.. But here’s an important reminder that, over the long term, things are pretty damn good:

Take war, for example – our lives now are more peaceful than at any time known to the human species. Archaeologists believe that 15 per cent of early mankind met a violent death, a ratio not even matched by the last two world wars. Since they ended, wars have become rarer and less deadly. More British soldiers died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme than in every post-1945 conflict put together.

We have recently been celebrating a quarter-century since the collapse of the Berlin Wall, which kicked off a period of global calm. The Canadian academic Steven Pinker has called this era the “New Peace”, noting that conflicts of all kinds – genocide, autocracy and even terrorism – went on to decline sharply the world over. Pinker came up with the phrase four years ago, but only now can we see the full extent of its dividends.

I would call it the Pax Americana myself, but whatevs.

With peace comes trade and, ergo, prosperity. Global capitalism has transferred wealth faster than foreign aid ever could.

A study in the current issue of The Lancet shows what all of this means. Global life expectancy now stands at a new high of 71.5 years, up six years since 1990. In India, life expectancy is up seven years for men, and 10 for women. It’s rising faster in the impoverished east of Africa than anywhere else on the planet. In Rwanda and Ethiopia, life expectancy has risen by 15 years.

….

The Ebola crisis has led to 7,000 deaths, each one a tragedy. But far more lives have been saved by the progress against malaria, HIV and diarrhoea. The World Bank’s rate of extreme poverty (those living on less than $1.25 a day) has more than halved since 1990, mainly thanks to China – where economic growth and the assault on poverty are being unwittingly supported by any parent who put a plastic toy under the tree yesterday.

But surely we are destroying the planet with all this prosperity. Nope. Carbon dioxide emissions have fallen in most of the Western world along with every other pollutant imaginable. We are feeding more people on less land these days and genetic engineering is bringing us miracles like the golden rice which could prevent millions of cases of blindness.

There has been no better time to be human than right now. And, if we don’t get too stupid, we’ll be able to keep saying that for a long time.

Happy New Year.

Other Articles:

Be sure to read Dave Barry’s Year in Review:

In politics, the big story is the looming midterm elections, which have President Obama crisscrossing the nation at a hectic pace in a last-ditch effort to find a Democratic candidate willing to appear in public with him.

Be sure to vote for Popehat’s Censorious Asshat of the Year.

A good year-end post at Reason summarizes the Year in Neo-Victorianism. What’s striking is that the push for prudery and censorship is coming from the Left, not the Right. The Left’s illiberalism is one of the defining traits of modern politics.

Update: Radley Balko summarizes the year in civil liberties. This is an area where things are getting worse each year. All of our rights are being slowly chipped away by the government.

But Did You Really Mean Yes?

A few weeks ago, I blogged on the affirmative consent law passed by California that requires any sexual contact on college campuses to have explicit and ongoing consent to not be qualified as assault. In criticizing it, I noted:

What this really is about is getting a foot in the door for something radical feminists have wanted for a long time: a standard of “enthusiastic consent” to determine the line between sex and rape. According to these theorists, the only time sex should happen is when the woman is eager for it. Anything else is a varying degree of rape.

Do you have any idea how tired I get of being right all the time?

Activists quoted in the Huffington Post now want to extend this “affirmative consent” ideology, and its pinched, misleading definition of “consent,” beyond college into K-12 schools, and beyond sexual activity to non-sexual touching and unwanted remarks, to teach people the sinister evil of things like “unsolicited hugs.” (My wife and daughter hug me without asking for permission, and sometimes it’s a surprise — a pleasant surprise, even if I never “agreed” to it.). Once busybodies start meddling in your personal life, it’s hard for them to stop.

The meddling won’t stop at the schoolhouse gate, and will eventually reach into your private life, too. As lawyer Scott Greenfield notes, progressive law professors have submitted a controversial proposal to the American Law Institute that the Model Penal Code be radically changed to require affirmative “consent” throughout society, for both “sexual intercourse” and a broader range of “sexual contact.” On page 69 of their draft, they explicitly admit that this affirmative “consent” requirement would classify as sexual assault even many “passionately wanted” instances of sex (presumably because of the technicality that such mutually-wanted sexual intercourse is welcomed after — not affirmatively consented to before — the sex is initiated.) Perversely, they justify this massive invasion of people’s sex lives as supposedly protecting people’s sexual “autonomy” from potentially unwanted sex, even though their proposal goes well beyond banning unwanted sex, to banning sex that was in fact “passionately wanted” although not agreed to in advance. See Model Penal Code: Sexual Assault and Related Offenses, Tentative Draft No. 1 at pg. 69 (April 30, 2014).

This is why, Ezra Klein, you don’t support what you admit is a terrible law because it serves some social justice function. Because once you infect the legal code with the sort of wooly thinking, it will spread and mutate until the entire law code is a feminist manifesto from Berkeley.

Gun Grabbers Encourage Felonies

It’s hard to pick the most idiotic political movement in this country, but I have to think the anti-gun movement is up there. Behold:

For those of you who don’t want to sit through it, it shows a teenage boy taking a gun out of his parents dresser. He tucks it into his backpack and goes to school to the sounds of ominous music. He waits until after class, goes up to the teacher and … turns it into the teacher, asking her to take it away because he doesn’t feel safe with it in the house.

Let’s count the number of crimes committed in this “uplifting” ad:

1. Illegal possession of a firearm by a minor.
2. Weapons theft (a felony)
3. Unlicensed conceal carry.
4. Carrying a weapon onto school grounds (a federal crime)
5. Transfer of a weapon without a background check (a crime in some states)

Let’s also note that this encourages kids to pick up and handle weapons, something the damned NRA works hard to discourage kids from doing.

It’s too bad I already gave out the Turkeys of the Year awards.

Fallout From A Murder

No matter what one thinks of police and modern policing, police violence, police racism or lack therefore, the execution of two NYPD officers over the weekend was thoroughly evil. Even if these officers were abusive and racist — and there is no indication whatsoever that they were — this act should still be thoroughly condemned by everyone.

I am not an anarchist. We can see around the world how thin the veneer of civilization is and how easily it is destroyed. Law and order are a huge improvement over the lack thereof, no matter how poorly they are enforced. It’s one thing to criticize police and demand reform and changes. It’s one thing to defend yourself if, for example, cops smash down your door in the middle of the night and you have no idea what’s going on. People can and should oppose aggressive policing and the intrusion of government into their lives. But the deliberate and cold-blooded murder of two policemen is an attack on civilization, on the idea of law and order.

The primary problem we have with policing in the United States is not a bunch of evil cops running around. It is a political leadership that has given them a million laws to enforce, authorized an aggressive war on voluntary behavior, shoved assault weapons and tanks into their hands and chipped away at accountability. The system is failing the police as thoroughly as it is failing the rest of us.

Unfortunately, in the aftermath of these vile murders, a narrative has emerged that conflates criticism of policing with the murders. This has been building for a long time. A couple of weeks ago, a paper ran a really stupid anti-police cartoon. This resulted in a union head issuing a scathing letter, demanding (and getting) an apology. But this wasn’t an isolated incident nor confined to idiot cartoons.

McNesby has a history of lashing out at journalists. When Philadelphia Daily News reporters Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman broke an incredible story about a Philly PD rogue narcotics unit that was essentially robbing immigrant-owned bodegas, McNesby called a press conference in which he called drug-using police informants “one step above” reporters like Laker and Ruderman. Someone launched a Web site specifically to attack the reporters. The two women later won a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting.

(Both the state and the Feds cleared the bodega cops despite video supporting the claims of multiple independent witnesses.)

Last week, police officers demanded an apology from a Cleveland Browns player for wearing a T-shirt demanding justice for John Crawford and Tamir Rice, as if being angry about the shooting of two men carrying BB guns was completely out of line. This followed demands for an apology when Rams players made the “hands up don’t shoot” gesture before a game. A police chief in California is under fire for marching with protesters in favor less police violence.

Bill de Blasio has become a lightning rod for this. Shortly before this incident, the PBA said that de Blasio was not welcome at any police funerals for “anti-police” views.

This pushback has only intensified in the aftermath of the murders. During de Blasio’s press conference, police literally turned their backs on him. Union leaders have said there is “blood on his hands” for his “anti-cop” positions, as though a career criminal and violent psychopath only needed to hear de Blasio’s speech to go on a murderous spree. Barack Obama, Eric Holder and Rahm Emmanuel have also been accused by Howard Safir, Rudy Giuliani and George Pataki of fomenting this event from their anti-cop rhetoric and “hatred” of cops.

But as Jamelle Bouie points out, none of this has been anti-cop unless you regard any criticism of police as anti-cop:

Police officers aren’t under siege from hostile elected officials. At no point, for example, has de Blasio attacked the New York City Police Department. Instead, he’s called for improved policing, including better community relations and new training for “de-escalation” techniques. “Fundamental questions are being asked, and rightfully so,” he said at the beginning of the month, after the grand jury decision in the death of Eric Garner. “The way we go about policing has to change.”

Likewise, neither President Obama nor Attorney General Eric Holder has substantively criticized police. After a Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the killing of Michael Brown, Obama appealed for calm and praised law enforcement for doing a “tough job.” “Understand,” he said, “our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day. They’ve got a tough job to do to maintain public safety and hold accountable those who break the law.”

When directly asked if “African-American and Latino young people should fear the police,” Holder said no. “I don’t think that they should fear the police,” he said in an interview for New York magazine with MSNBC’s Joy-Ann Reid. “But I certainly think that we have to build up a better relationship between young people, people of color, and people in law enforcement.”

Note that Bouie is actually quoting those accused of anti-cop rhetoric rather than making vague quote-free allegations.

Nothing here should be a surprise. Despite what these police organizations and their allies allege, there isn’t an anti-police movement in this country, or at least, none of any significance. The people demonstrating for Eric Garner and Michael Brown aren’t against police, they are for better policing. They want departments to treat their communities with respect, and they want accountability for officers who kill their neighbors without justification. When criminals kill law-abiding citizens, they’re punished. When criminals kill cops, they’re punished. But when cops kill citizens, the system breaks down and no one is held accountable. That is what people are protesting.

Given the dangers inherent to being a police officer—and the extent to which most cops are trying to do the best they can—it’s actually understandable that cops are a little angry with official and unofficial criticism. But they should know it comes with the territory. For all the leeway they receive, the police aren’t an inviolable force; they’re part of a public trust, accountable to elected leaders and the people who choose them. And in the same way that police have a responsibility to protect and secure the law, citizens have a responsibility to hold improper conduct to account.

On the subject of de Blasio specifically, Doug Mataconis points out that it is unreasonable to expect the reflexive absolute loyalty to the police that Giuliani exhibited:

Politically, DeBlasio may or may not have bungled his relationship with the NYPD during his first year in office, but that hardly makes him responsible for murder. Additionally, the fact that the Mayor may have expressed some sympathy for the people who were protesting the Garner decision is neither outrageous nor inappropriate. For one thing, it’s worth noting that he is the Mayor of all the people in New York, not just the police officers, and that as the elected leader of the city it is his job, in part, to be responsive to the concerns of civilians who see what they think is an injustice being committed by the police department and the justice system. The argument that being willing to listen to those protesters makes any political leader responsible for the actions of a violent criminal thug who traveled some 200 miles for the express purpose of committing murder is nonsense that ought to be rejected out of hand.

Yes, it is true that there have been some assholes calling for dead cops. Let’s not pretend that element isn’t out there. And people like Sharpton have been disgracefully slow to condemn such rhetoric. But this shooting does not mean the movement for better policing and more accountability is wrong. When a husband-and-wife team ambushed and murdered two cops earlier this year, it wasn’t the fault of the Tea Party. When Gabby Giffords was shot, it wasn’t the fault of Sarah Palin. When Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah Building, it wasn’t the fault of Rush Limbaugh. Arguing that acts of violence committed by crazed extremists discredits an entire movement is the sort of thing I expect out of the Left Wing in this country. Read Ross Douthat’s post on how isolated violent acts have been used throughout history to discredit political opponents. Nick Gillespie:

As the New York Daily News and other outlets are reporting, the apparent shooter was not only violent and unhinged but had bragged via Instagram that he was “putting wings on pigs” and “putting pigs in a blanket.”

The distance between such rantings and, even worse, the act of shooting policemen sitting in a patrol car is so vast that they simply have no relation to legitimate and even impassioned criticism of the militarization of police and the protesting of specific acts of apparent injustice.

To suggest otherwise is not simply disgraceful and cheapening to serious public discourse. It’s all too often the first refuge of people on the right and the left who are afraid to actually engage in any sort of meaningful debate.

This was an isolated incident. Last year saw the fewest cops murdered in seven decades and rates of violence against cops we haven’t seen since the 19th century. 2013 was an unusually safe year for cops and 2014 is likely to return to the 40-50 killings we’ve been averaging over the last decade. Doubtless, this increase will be cast as a “war on cops” by the usual sources. They dragged out the “war on cops” a few years ago when the number of murders went up, then went silent when it dropped back down again. But violence against cops is still at historic lows. As I note every time there is a mass shooting, these incidents are mercifully rare. These were the first NYPD cops murdered in three years.

And it’s worth noting something else: violence by cops is also down. It’s hard to tell how far down since official national statistics are not kept. But for the NYPD specifically, cop shootings of citizens is way down. So there is progress being made. But that progress still leaves us with a thousand people dead at the hands of police every year. That compares to about four a year in Germany, about a dozen in year in Canada and zero in Great Britain. Most of those killings are justified; some are not. But we have a system that has trouble distinguishing between the two.

The reaction to the killings is not unexpected. As I noted above, there has been a sustained campaign by police unions and supporters to delegitimize any criticism of the police (while ignoring provocative speech on their own side.) But let’s not pretend that there is no middle ground between the vicious execution of two cops and concern and criticism over a system that allows for consequence-free bad behavior.

Two good men are dead at the hands of a vile killer, a man who showed no compunction about shooting his ex-girlfriend before this or committing other acts of violence. Let’s not legitimize his deranged excuses by calling it a political movement.

Cops Murdered

As you no doubt have heard, this weekend a man attempted to murder his ex-girlfriend in Maryland then drove to New York where he cold-bloodedly shot two cops. He then killed himself. I’ll maybe post something later on in the week on the reaction to the events. But not right now. Right now, here are the two men who were killed:

And a heart-breaking message from Ramos’s son:

The Best of Lee: Team America, World Police

Given recent events, I thought it would be nice to link up Lee’s post on Team America: World Police where he responds to the negative review from Roger Ebert:

Particularly important quote:

Is there any doubt that if this were a two-hour Bush bashing fest Ebert would have found it a brilliant piece of political satire? Ebert, who is usually pretty astute when it comes to these sort of things, is so blinded by his political opinions that he missed the entire point of the film. Team America represents America itself, Roger. This point is so blatantly obvious that only Ebert’s willful ignorance can explain his inability to see it.

During the end scene in North Korea, when Gary is doing the dick/pussy/asshole speech, he is obviously talking about America. The point of the speech, and of the film itself, is that America is a giant, blustery, idealistic 800lb gorilla. Often times we do things and we fuck them up horribly, but as it stands right now we’re the only country able to do them. In one priceless scene, Hans Blix confronts Kim Jong Il, ordering Kim (under authority of the United Nations) to give him unlimited access to his compound to check for WMD. “Or what?” Kim asks. Blix then replies sternly, “We’ll get really, really mad. And we’ll send you an angry letter!” The point here is one that I have made many, many times on this blog. You can only threaten action so many times before you get called on your bluff. The UN, without american power, is utterly impotent to deal with threats. And while America might not be the most diplomatic nation sometimes, we’re the only ones who can get the job done.

Think about “red lines” and other such empty threats Barack Obama has made.

He also gets into why so many celebrities, including Ebert, hated the film so intensely.

When I write a post I leave myself fully open to getting torn a new asshole. People can immediately leave comments telling me what I clueless douchebag I am, and occasionally they’re right. These celebrity morons, however, are never, ever challenged on their bullshit. Sean Penn goes to Iraq and returns to be treated like an expert on the subject. (You know, I went to the zoo once, but that doesn’t mean I can speak authoritatively on elephants or giraffes.)

The reason Ebert doesn’t like seeing pampered, self-righteous, egotistical celebrity morons being made fun of is that he himself is a pampered, self-righteous, egotistical celebrity moron. He only sees nihilism in this film is because he cannot imagine a world in which his opinion is not important, and by tearing down people who have the same opinions as him you are, by proxy, destroying the very reason he exists: to tell other people what he thinks. The difference, of course, is that in the area of film Ebert speaks with authority. In the area of social commentary he’s just as much a bloviating, self-righteous dick as I am. But when you’re used to people kissing your ass telling you how brilliant you are, being cut down to size can be a bitter pill to swallow.

Read the whole thing, as always.

Steal, Lie, then Steal Again

Earlier this year, I talked about an outrageous government swindle enabled by the Democrats. The IRS was withholding $75 million of people’s tax refunds based on decades-old Social Security overpayments to their parents. In the face of withering criticism, Social Security backed down.

Guess what?

The Social Security Administration, which announced in April that it would stop trying to collect debts from the children of people who were allegedly overpaid benefits decades ago, has continued to demand such payments and now defends that practice in court documents.

After The Washington Post reported in April that the Treasury Department had confiscated $75 million in tax refunds due to about 400,000 Americans whose ancestors owed money to Social Security, the agency’s acting commissioner, Carolyn Colvin, said efforts to collect on those old debts would cease immediately.

But although some people whose refunds were seized were reimbursed in recent months, some of those same taxpayers have since received new demands from Social Security, asserting that the debts remain and seeking repayment.

This shouldn’t surprise us. This is what our vindictive greedy government does. When they are caught in outrageous behavior, they back down, wait for the furor to die, and then continue to do it. They’re like roaches who scatter when the light is turned on then come back out when it’s dark. Asset forfeiture efforts slowed after Kelo, then resumed with greater furor. Drug War abuses will be suspended when there is a particularly horrible case, then resume when everyone’s moved on. And this particular Social Security-IRS grave-robbing hid under the baseboards for a few months and then came back. And any attention now will make them back down. And then in six months, they’ll be demanding money again.

Until Congress changes the law, Social Security will continue to hound people like this. It’s not enough to get outraged; Congress needs to act.

If you are a lefty looking for whatever your “ism” du jour is…

As Obama’s true colors and ineptness finally overwhelm even the media’s most rabid attempts to control the narrative, and American people realize how much of a dimwitted idiot – inept asshole is fitting a name here – and that Obama’s promise to fundamentally change America definitely meant changes that would destroy the once great nation, and react accordingly, by showing their disapproval, it is no surprise to me that the Obamas and the left are desperate to silence the naysayers. Hence the preponderance of stories like this one where Obama tells about how the country is full of closet racists. Funny thing is that it isn’t even a month ago that I was actually standing in front of a fancy restaurant’s valet parking area, with a young lady of all things, having a discussion about the day’s events, when some idiot in a Mercedes pulled up and asked me to park his car. We both chose to laugh the whole thing off. After all, we were standing where people drop of their car, and the guy just assumed the wrong thing. Shit like this happens, and to always assume racism or some other ill intent is behind it, tells more about you and about the stupid attempt to perpetuate your narrative, than it does about the person that made the mistake.

Then you have Moochelle’s story about how she was asked to pull shit off a shelve at a Target. Must have happened a long time ago, because I doubt she does her own shopping these days, and if she does, I doubt it is at Target. Of course to her this happened because of the inherent racism of the person asking. Like her husband, she never assumed anything but ill intent and racism on behalf of the person that asked. My bet is that we are dealing with a short old lady that just figured the Wookie could reach the top shelve with ease, and asked. Moochelle, not proud at all of her country, as she herself has told us, immediately assumed racism was involved. After all who would ask a tall woman for help unless they assumed she was the help in the first place, huh? It’s just crazy to expect some stranger might want to help you out!

There is a nagging suspicion in me that I can not shake, and while I am inclined to chalk all this off to people looking for racism always finding it, whether it is there or not, and that is that I can’t let go of my feelings that that this shit is all made up anyway. We are dealing with a bunch of hucksters that want to control the narrative and take focus away from the problems they have caused, and they have used this very tactic, repeatedly, in the past. At this time when Obama and the left are imploding we sure seem to have a slew of leftist media peddled stories about all the various “isms” and abuses their special interest groups feed on all fall apart when closely scrutinized, haven’t we? From the leftist take on what happened in Ferguson and how the LSM chose to report it – until the facts bore out that story was a heaping pile of dung – to their take of Jackie’s frat party rape fest at a UVA by some fact checking challenged writer at Rolling Stone, we have had story after story peddled either fall apart or turn out to be blatantly made up shit. Conveniently, neither the story by Moochelle or the Manchurian candidate can actually be researched properly and validated, and I doubt anyone in the LSM would do so anyway if it could be done, as recent events have bore out.

Perspective matters, and we should keep that in mind whenever you hear one of these media sob stories peddling the grievance politics of the left, I tell you. And again, I have to admit that I am not a bit surprised that Obama’s promise of healing America and the post racial age, like all his other promises, fall flat. In fact, the age of Obama has brought us a lot more of the things candidate Obama told us he would do away with or fix. My only consolation is that people are finally wising up and this weapon that served the left so well in the past to squash any attempts at having a debate based on logic and facts, has lost its luster. More and more people can now immediately see this bullshit for what it is, and I do have to thank the media and the Obama’s for that.